Elle Edwards: Hundreds attend funeral of shooting victim as mourners told to have 'hope in their hearts'

Family and friends were among hundreds of people who attended the funeral of Elle Edwards, a 26-year-old beautician fatally shot outside a pub on Christmas Eve.

Ms Edwards was celebrating with friends when a gunman opened fire at the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village, Wirral, shortly before midnight.

She is not believed to have been the intended target of the attack, in which four men were also injured.

Mourners gathered in the rain at St Nicholas Church in Wallasey for the service.

The funeral cortege was led by a hearse with a tribute of flowers that read "Elle", while her coffin was brought in a carriage pulled by four white horses.

Pallbearers, including her father Tim, carried the coffin into the church.

Reverend Jeff Staples told the congregation that Ms Edwards's grandfather George had said they need to leave the church with "hope in our hearts".

He said: "The light of hope shone in the goodness of those who were able to act to try and save Elle. Elle was not abandoned to the darkness.

He added: "The light of hope will continue to shine every time somebody stands up and says 'this must stop'."

The service was followed by a private cremation at Landican Cemetery.

Mourners were asked to donate to the Elle Edwards Foundation in her memory.

In an interview with Sky News last week, Tim Edwards said: "She was beautiful looking and she was a great hugger. She was just a fantastic human being with a heart of gold."

Mr Edwards said he hoped the foundation would combat gun violence in the region.

The Lighthouse pub, where Ms Edwards was killed, closed today as a mark of respect.

A statement on the pub's Facebook page said: "Elle and her family have remained very much in our thoughts over these past few weeks and even more so right now. May she rest in peace."

Connor Chapman, 22, has been charged with murdering Ms Edwards. His trial is due to start on 7 June.